Continued Boeing 737 MAX delays sees Ryanair growth likely to stall

©Ryanair

Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, Dublin-based Ryanair, has posted only a 2.6% growth in passenger numbers for the financial year, its lowest growth figure since 2014. In addition, the carrier believes that if Boeing’s 737 MAX remains grounded for much longer, overall growth for the 2019 financial year will be wiped out, compared to an average 10% annual growth over the last four years.

Despite the setback, Neil Sorahan, Ryanair CFO, believes there is zero risk that the carrier will fail to meet its projected target of flying 200 million passengers per annum by 2024. With 210 737 MAX jets on order, Ryanair is one of Boeing’s larges customers, but CEO Michael O’Leary commented on Monday, November 4, that while the company had lowered its delivery estimate of jets by June from 30 to 20, there was “a  real risk of none” being delivered in that time. While American carriers have only penciled in a return to service of the 737 MAX for early next year, European carriers will have to wait even longer in order to obtain approval for the stricken aircraft from the European Aviation Safety  Agency (EASA), while Ryanair will also have to obtain specific approval for its 737 MAX200s.

The airline reported post-tax profit of €1.15 billion for the six months to September 30, its most profitable sector of the year, and is now predicting a full-year profit of between €800 million and €900 million. Ryanair has also warned of higher than expected losses at its Austrian subsidiary Laudamotion because of overcapacity in Austria and Germany. (€1.00 = US$1.10 at time of publication.)

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